Opening a first Swiss account after moving to Switzerland

in #banking4 years ago (edited)

Completely revised and updated in December 2018

When moving to Switzerland, one of the first questions that comes up is "which account should I open". After all you need to receive your salary, pay bills etc...

This article covers purely "receive, send and pay", no investment advice whatsoever.

My universal answer is: (via Code LWMP23 both you and me will receive 10 CHF)

The simple reason: All packages offered by other banks are more expensive, while the services which are included can be obtained, free of charge, by combining other companies' services.

Let's dig into details:

  • Neon is a totally free current account.
  • Two cash withdrawals are free every month; but in Switzerland virtually everything can be paid by card. Should you want to withdraw more often this will set you back CHF2/withdrawal, but there are also other ways to get your hands on cash in Switzerland. I will cover this at another time.

Most people want an additional credit card. You can get just that, free of charge, from the two main Swiss retailers:

Coop's card can be ordered as Visa or Master, while Migros offers Master only.

I recommend getting both cards, as it's a bit unclear to me who raises credit limits in which way. Having two, possibly one Visa and one Master, should put you on the safe side in any case.

All accounts and services described so far are for pure CHF usage. Considering your income is now in CHF, but you will probably still have some expenses in other countries and/or currencies, we will now fix the foreign exchange problem:

For most cases, you should sign up with Transferwise's borderless offer together with their Credit Card:

In a nutshell, Transferwise offers accounts in several countries and currencies, combined with decent exchange rates. One of the accounts is a local CHF-account in Switzerland. As such you can transfer CHF 1:1 into their CHF account, and spend them using the credit card. More details about Transferwise here:

If your foreign interests are mainly in the €-zone and if you speak some German, you might want to consider opening an account with

This bank offers a free €-account with attached free €-debit card. The card allows to withdraw cash at any ATM in the €-zone, absolutely free of charge. As such you are fully integrated into the €-SEPA-zone, should that be of intrest to you.

Last-but-not-least, in case you want to move away from Switzerland, here's a niche offer which is widely unknown. The "Giro Swiss" offered by Sparkasse Hochrhein in Germany:

Thanks to the enforcement of money laundry laws in Switzerland being more strict than anywhere else, it's very difficult to maintain a Swiss account once you don't live there anymore. My original recommendation, Neon, would close your account when leaving. If you do manage to keep an account, it's very expensive. For example Postfinance's fees jump from CHF5/month to CHF25/month, just because you decide to leave the country.

With Sparkasse Hochrhein you will get an account which looks like a "usual" Swiss account for €1.90/month. Although it's a German bank, it comes with a Swiss account number. No one in Switzerland would know it's not a "usual" Swiss account. Unbeatable, in case you still need transactional banking in Switzerland after leaving.

Here's all links to all offers in one place:

Accounts and credit cards inside Switzerland

foreign transactions

Swiss account for people who leave


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